Friday, January 13, 2017

The Third Episode of the Podcast is Up!

So here we have the long-awaited third episode of the Secrets of Story Podcast, hosted by myself and James Kennedy! WARNING: This episode is a special jumbo-sized departure from our normal format. In our first episode I attempted to fling away an idea about Laika the Space Dog, but then James caught it and decided to write it himself as a 70-page screenplay, so for this episode James made a tape in which he and his niece and nephew read the script out loud, then I listen to the tape and give notes, while James responds to in real time. The result is entertaining, but long, as the final product came in at a whopping 2 hours and 10 minutes, so this episode might just be for die-hard fans only. For the rest of you, come back for episode four, where we’ll return to our normal svelte, fighting weight! In the meantime, download this one here or subscribe on iTunes! (Once again, the music is from FreeMusicArchive.com. It’s “Lucky Me” by Scott Holmes, with an Attribution/NonCommercial license.)

Monday, January 02, 2017

Last Change to Give Us Laika Notes!

I was playing coy before, lest I ruin the surprise, but now you’ve had lots of time to listen to the second podcast, so I’ll go ahead and discuss it here: James took the Laika idea I tossed out in the first podcast and wrote his own version, and we’ll discuss it on the third episode, which we record in a few days. We’ll read it aloud on the air as I critique it, but in the meantime, you have one last chance to download the script and toss your notes into the mix, as Harvey Jerkwater did in the comments here. Thanks for the notes, Harvey!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Kindle is Finally Here!

It’s been a mighty long wait, and many of you were getting mighty impatient, I know, but I’m glad to announce that the Kindle version of the book is finally available on the Amazon page! (And while you’re there, check out my 11 five-star reviews!)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Secrets of Story Podcast, Episode 2: The Easy Way!

Well, folks, it’s been a month since Episode 1, but life got in the way. We first recorded this on the night before the election, but we ran out of time and decided to meet again to finish it later. Then disaster struck. Afterwards, we decided to re-record it for a post-Trump world, and did so, but the dour Trump-themed version was too depressing, so then we decided to splice just the end of the later recording onto the first recording. So most of this episode is a relic of a happier world, before evil triumphed (and the end bit doesn’t acknowledge the new post-apocalyptic reality.)

You can stream it here, or, even better, subscribe to us on iTunes, then like us and review us!

At the end of this episode, we have a surprise for you, so I won’t spoil it here, but it involves a download, so here’s that link!

(Once again, the music is from FreeMusicArchive.com. It’s “Lucky Me” by Scott Holmes, with an Attribution/NonCommercial license.) 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New Video on Exposition!

Hey guys, it seems impossible to go on, but we must go on. Let’s all pretend that my silly little story advice has any meaning in post-apocalyptic America! That said, here’s a new video on exposition: This one is the shortest yet, barely squeaking in over three minutes. Is it too short? Let me know!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It All Seems Pointless Now

I was going to post more about Star Trek Beyond, and I was supposed to edit the new podcast that James and I recorded on Monday night to post next Sunday, but it all seems kind of pointless now, after the election.  I’m sure the despair will lighten in the coming days, just because everything that goes down must come up, but it’s hard to see that right now.  I’ll be back. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Rulebook Casefile: The Lack of a False “I Understand You” Moment in Star Trek Beyond

I just watched Star Trek Beyond and boy is it limp. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not an utter horrorshow like the last one— If I had to pick one word to describe it, I would just choose “lazy.”

We start off with an unexciting cold open, played for laughs, in which Kirk, standing still, gets attacked by little creatures. This ends quickly without any real jeopardy, then we have a dreadful 15 minutes of “character scenes” in which Kirk wallows in vague ennui. Then an alien woman shows up asking that the Enterprise save her planet (or something, it’s not clear.) As soon as the Enterprise shows up at her planet, it gets attacked and destroyed by some bad guys. Escaping to the planet below, Kirk realizes that the woman who asked them to come there did so knowing that they were being lured into a trap to be destroyed. At first she claims she had to do so to save her crew, and then she seems to be working with the bad guys maybe, and then she’s killed off unceremoniously.

The movie’s biggest problem is that this alien woman makes no impression on us before she betrays our heroes. Helping her is the entire motivation for the movie! In the whole epic scene in which the Enterprise gets destroyed, they’re sacrificing everything to save her, but she’s barely had any lines!

This movie needs what Frozen had: a fake “I understand you” moment. Kirk should be hesitant to help her until she reaches out to him with an impassioned cry of the heart that makes him care so much that he’s even willing to sacrifice his ship to help her in her cause (whatever that cause was. Again, it was unclear). They should bond deeply, and we in the audience should feel moved by her story.

Of course, it’s tricky, you don’t just want an unfair fake-out. As with Hans in Frozen, you want to be able to rewatch the movie and realize “Oh, I can see how she’s faking him out, and how what she’s saying can actually be taken either way.” But even the unfair version would be better than what they have. You can’t just assume that the audience will sympathize with a victim because we’re told (falsely) that she’s a victim. You have to make us feel that, or we won’t care (with good reason, in this case.)

(Another problem here is that the movie decides that, after 50 successful years of Star Trek, they’re suddenly going to worry about the language translation problem, so they have the woman speaking in her alien language, with a little automatic translator on her lapel repeating the words in English. Before this, for all intents and purposes, everybody in the Trek universe just spoke English, and that worked just fine. Why mess with success? The way they do it makes it even more impossible to empathize with her.)